The Sikh Heritage of Pakistan

Pak: The sub group on photography special programmes of the Asian Study Group (ASG) organised the launch of the book, ‘The Sikh Heritage of Pakistan’ at Kuch Khaas for its December programme.

The event was held at Kuch Khaas and attended by ASG members who are book and photography enthusiasts. The well-researched coffee table book on which this presentation was based has been co- authored by Dr Syed Safdar Ali Shah, an eminent educationist, scholar and researcher, serving currently as Director, Academics at NUST and is beautifully illustrated through photographs by Syed Javaid Kazi, an internationally known award winning photographer and the President of the Photographic Society of Pakistan (PSP). Readers may recall that these two have authored another very special book on the ‘Churches of Pakistan’ and should be appreciated for highlighting the cultural heritage of the country. Both books make an excellent gift!

After a brief welcome by president ASG, Parvin Malik who also introduced the two speakers and thanked them for their contribution of recording this part of our cultural heritage, Dr Safdar gave an outline of the history of the Sikhs historical homeland was the greater Punjab and whose religion was founded by Guru Nanak. Sikh teaching emphasizes the principle of equality of all humans and rejects discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, and gender. According to Sikh tradition, the Guru spread his teachings wherever he travelled and near the end of his life he had many followers. The Guruship was consecutively passed down to nine other Gurus, who strengthened and expanded the Sikh religion. The final and last Guruship was bestowed upon a combined institution of holy-book (Granth) immersed in The Guru Granth Sahib Ji and people i.e the Guru Khalsa. Their places of worship, known as ‘Gurdwaras’ are to be found all over the country some in very good shape and some not so until recently – many of them are being refurbished.

Javed Kazi told of how their research had led them to discover many gurdwaras – the ones in good shape and others which are neglected because they are no longer in use. A slide show of the pictures in the book followed and gave a fascinating look at some gurdwaras which many of us may not get to see at all since domestic tourism is not one of our strong points!

There was a Q&A session and some people showed keen interest in signing up for the trip to one of the best kept Gurdwaras located in Hasanabdal which followed a few days later. In his closing remarks the patron of ASG Peter Heyward said he had been fascinated by the presentation; lauded the author’s effort to record this cultural heritage and thanked the ASG for arranging a programme on such an interesting subject.


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